love

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Motherhood is such a complex occupation. Your actual title might be mom, mommy, momma, or some other version of the name, but you are so much more. You are a nurse, teacher, nurturer, referee, maid…well, you get the picture. A mother is the wearer of many hats, and we wouldn’t even be here without her. I have been blessed with two moms, Collene Spencer and Joann Schulenberg; two daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce; and two granddaughters-in-law with children, Karen Petersen and Athena Petersen. Babies are such a blessing, and then they grow into wonderful adults and the blessings continue for years to come.

Mother’s Day becomes something different wen you mom or mother-in-law are in Heaven. While they aren’t really gone, they are gone from our view, and that makes us sad. I’m sure that, like me, you probably thought your mom would always be there with you. We never expect them to leave us until they are gone, and then we realize just how much we will miss them. Those moments when we would love to call them, to say Hi, or to ask a question, or talk about our day, or even to cry on their shoulder. The day our mom leaves us is one of the hardest days we will ever have.

When we become moms, we find out how rewarding motherhood can be, but also, just how hard it can be too. Things like diaper changes, formula, and spitting up, soon give way to school days, school supplies, school clothes, and of course, the dreaded homework help. Still, watching them grow and mature is among the most rewarding things we will ever experience. Then, before our very eyes, they are making us into grandmothers, and the cycle of life continues. Our babies having babies and before we know it our grandbabies are having babies. Time just doesn’t stand still. It is always marching on.

Today is a day when we get to celebrate our mothers, our daughters who are mothers, and our granddaughters who are mothers. We celebrate, because they have made us so happy. They are among the most special people ever to walk the face of the Earth. Today is Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers in my life, and the mothers in yours. Have a great day, ladies!! We love you so much!!

While some people think that Valentine’s Day is just another “far to commercialized” holiday, I like the idea of telling those you love, that you are thinking of them today. Yes, we should be thinking of them every day, and most of us do that, but to set aside a day to give that little extra, whether it is a card, candy, jewelry, dinner, or just time together is one more chance of letting them know that they are valued. I see no harm in giving just a little bit extra one day a year. You never know how deeply that will affect them. They might be having a really bad day, or just feeling lonely. Life is about connecting with our loved ones, and finding little ways of making them feel loved.

Of course, there is the romantic side of the coin too. Telling our spouse or partner just how important they are to us is so important. Some people think you have to go all out, and I suppose that is part of the problem people have with the day, but I think that some of the sweetest token of affection can be hand-made cards. I think most people have years when things are a little tighter, and if your spouse or partner really loves you, they don’t want to see anyone go crazy in debt for the day. A home-cooked dinner by candlelight can be super romantic, but skipping the day because you think it’s corny…just not cool.

Whatever you choose to do, don’t be the Valentine’s Day version of Scrooge, because that will land you quickly in the doghouse, and I seriously doubt that it will be covered with paper hearts and filled with chocolate candy. The doghouse is not the place anyone wants to spend the holiday that is known for love, unless your valentine is your dog, that is. I suppose that your dog could be your valentine, but my suggestion is that if your dog is your valentine, you had better get your sweet pup an extra serving of Kibble, or you might find yourself kicked to the curb…or sleeping in the kennel for the night!! Whatever you do to celebrate the day, I hope it finds you sharing it with someone you really love. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!! Have a lovely day!!

My nephew Jake Harman is one husband who is madly in love with his wife. He never has anything but wonderful things to say about his wife, Melanie “Mel” Harman. So often, Jakes words concerning his wife are so much better than anything I could write, that I find myself just putting his words down, and making little additions here and there. Jake tells me that, “Mel is the best wife in the world and an even better mother. We have been together eight years and her laugh gets better every time I hear it, and her smile more beautiful than the last time I saw it. I have had the honor of spending her last 8 birthdays with her and being able to call her mine which makes me the luckiest man alive.” The love Jake feels for Mel is immeasurable.

Mel works for the State Building, and everyone there absolutely loves her. Mel is a hard worker, and her work very much appreciated. She is constantly being told how loved she is and what an awesome job she does. She used to work on a different floor, and the people from that floor even tell her how much they want her back there. Mel has always had an amazing attitude and makes everyone’s day better. She has a great smile that blesses everyone she sees.

Like most people, while Mel loves her job, she doesn’t live to work. Her family is her top priority. Mel and Jake have three beautiful children…Alice, Izabella, and Jaxx. The kids are so blessed by their mom and dad. Their home is always filled with laughter, and lots of antics. Mel is really great about “putting up” with the four kids that live there. Yes, I’m counting her biggest kid…Jake. She always makes time for her family, and any needs that they have…even when she is tired after a long day, or even if she isn’t feeling so great. Mel believes in putting the needs of others ahead of her own. Jake says that “those babies are so spoiled when it comes to mom, as she loves them more than life itself, and who can blame her as all of them have her perfect smile.” Recently, Jake switched jobs, and his shifts are overnight, so Mel has had to take on the evening and bedtime duties by herself, in addition to working a full-time job. Jake calls Mel “a superhero only better. She does this so I can sleep and her love for her family is more than anything else.” Two different shifts make it hard, because they don’t get to see each other very much now, but makes the time they do have that much better. Shiftwork is always hard, but love can make it work.

Jake admits to “corrupting” Mel a little bit, saying that “Over the last 8 years I can see I have turned her more towards ornery, as she loves to pick on me and every time she does, I fall more in love with her. I truly believe God gives us our other half, because she truly is mine!! The babies and I are always fighting because they always call her ‘their best friend’ instead of me being ‘their best friend.’ They will tell her ‘I love you mommy’ and she say, ‘I love you to babies.’ Then they reply you’re my ‘best friend’ and that’s when the battle begins!! I can’t blame them, as she is ‘my best friend’ too!!” There is a whole lot of love in that family!! Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Mel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Like most holidays, Valentine’s Day has different meanings for different groups of people. At one time, back in the 400s, it was to celebrate the coming of Spring. It was also a day to celebrate two saints named Valentine. It was a way of honoring them. These days, I think it is pretty much universally known as a holiday to celebrate love, and even friendship.

Of course, the flower, candy, and greeting card industries, as well as the restaurant industry, have really profited from the Valentine’s Day tradition of showing our love, and I think that’s ok. While some people consider the day to be a forced display, I feel like it is a great way to show people how much they mean to you. I don’t really understand why people consider it a burden. In our family we always brought candy to our parents and siblings, and I love to continue that with my kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. To see the smiles on their faces, is all I need to feel happy.

With restaurants so busy on Valentine’s Day, my husband, Bob and I always choose a different day to go out for dinner. Many other people feel the same way, and with that, Valentine’s Day has essentially become Valentine’s week. If a couple is going to become engaged on Valentine’s Day, or get married on Valentine’s Day, then no other day will do. That makes sense too. I don’t know how I would feel about getting engaged or married on a holiday, but many people think it’s a great idea to mix the holiday with their special day. Of course, becoming engaged on those holidays is w very different thing. Still, to each his own, as they say. However, you choose to celebrate, or not celebrate Valentine’s Day, it will always be remembered as a day to celebrate love.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you have a wonderful day, and if you decide to celebrate the coming of Spring, well…it’s truly just around the corner. And about that, I am completely happy. To my family, friends, and my love…Bob, I say Happy Valentine’s Day. May your day, or week be wonderful!!

While my nephew, Dave Chase is a fun-loving, always active in every sport there’s a team for and the most sociable guy, his wife (my niece Toni) has ever met, what stands out above all, is his participation in family activities and his devotion to ALL of his family!! Dave took a number of trips this year, including a trip to San Diego, California for the NCAA Championship, a skiing trip to Winter Park in Utah, a fishing trip in Canada, a trip to Sturgis, South Dakota, several trips to Colorado for concerts and baseball, several trips to Centennial and Laramie, Wyoming for football games, basketball games, hiking and spending time with family, and a trip to Jackson Wyoming for hiking and sightseeing. Dave and Toni love to travel, and that has been a good thing for his whole family. Toni tells me, “Of course, I’ve always felt his love and kindness toward me and James and now Manuela and have always recognized him as the most unimaginably loyal and dependable patriarch of my little family that he is. BUT this goes way deeper, and I didn’t see it until I started thinking about what Dave has been up to in the last year. Dave’s devotion extends to his whole family circle. I could fill up the next 300 pages if I tried to cover all the examples that come to mind, but in an attempt to keep it short, I will just throw out a few.”

Dave has traveled to Laramie (sometimes on his own) just to accompany his mom to basketball games so that she doesn’t have to go alone. Dave is very loving and loyal to his mom, and since his dad passed away, he has made sure that she can still do the things she likes to do. He took his mom, sister, and Toni to Sturgis, South Dakota, so that they could all see their dad and sister’s new headstone together. Then, when Jane (his sister) and Nancy (their mother) were preparing to leave the following morning, it was discovered that his sister’s tire had a slow leak. Dave insisted that she take his car back to Laramie and on to Colorado where Jane lives to ensure their safe travel. Dave and Toni took Janes car back to her the following week, complete with a new tire. Dave and his brother both enjoy hiking, so Dave went to Centennial days in advance to hike with his brother, Dan before everybody else got there…just to have time with his brother.

Dave has been a great blessing to his mother-in-law (my sister, Cheryl Masterson), treating her just like he does his mom. Taking care of her lawn is difficult for Cheryl, and Dave just took it upon himself to take on that job. Cheryl tells me, “Dave has been such a blessing to me, and our family, ever since he and Toni began dating. He honestly took our family to heart from the very beginning!! He just accepted us all as his own and made each one of us his friend with his hilarious sense of humor, and his kindness!! He brings those traits with him to every family event, and to church on Sunday!! He continually looks for ways to be a blessing. He’s a man who always likes to be busy. He sees a need, and he finds a way to fill that need. I can’t tell you the countless times he has come by my house on a Saturday just to rake up the leaves in my yard! Or how he’s made space in his garage to store some of the guys in our family’s motorcycles in the winter, or the times he and Toni have taken some of my grandchildren to their home just because they were bored, and fed them, entertained them, got them out of their parent’s hair, and made them happy for a while. Or the times he has gone far beyond what could ever be expected to meet a need greater than I could ever afford!! And above all else, he is a wonderful husband to my daughter, Toni, and a wonderful stepdad to my grandson, James and to James’ wife, Manuela.” Dave is so thoughtful, and everyone around him becomes the beneficiary of his kindness. He gave up his second-row seat to “Hamilton” to Toni’s sister, Elizabeth Masterson, because he knew how badly she wanted to go. Tonie told me that “just in the last 5 days he went out of his way (at 6:30 am) to WalMart for the sole purpose of buying me a space heater because my feet were cold. And he made a deal with James and Manuela to get me James’s Mustang knowing that I couldn’t stand to see it sold to anybody else.”

Nancy Chase, Dave’s mom says, “Dave is always eager to help me with anything. – Changing light bulbs, moving deck furniture to and from the garage, replacing bad 2x4s on the deck. And he gives me hugs and put his arm around me when we visited Jim’s (Dave’s dad) grave in SD…” Of her brother, Jane says, “My brother Dave has always been a natural leader. He is intelligent, funny, athletic, stays active with numerous interests and makes friends wherever he goes. It’s easy to think of funny stories regarding Dave. This year, instead of sharing some of Dave’s funny antics, I’d like to share something more meaningful. As you may know, we lost our dad just over a year ago. Throughout all the sadness and aftermath, Dave showed his true strength, gentle kindness, and love of family. Quietly and without fanfare, he has become our Chase family patriarch. I am grateful and he is perfect!” Bother, Dan says, “Some things that stand out for me about Dave over this last summer are he and I working on mom’s deck replacing deck slats, hiking in the Snowy Range and Dave always having to prove his strength by pushing dead Aspen trees down at the cabin.”

Manuela, Dave’s daughter-in-law, says, “We’re so happy for Dave’s life, he didn’t have children of his own, but life still gave him two. One is always teasing and making fun of him (James), and the other, “a little chocolate boss” who is just like him. (Manuela). Before James and I make any big decisions, we always ask Dave for his opinion or advice, because we know how much he knows. And even though Dave always says that he is the boss, the truth is that Toni and Manuela are really Dave’s boss?” As you can see, Dave and Manuela really do share the same sense of humor!!

Some stories that I write are the kind that I have to think long and hard about, but some…like this one, are so easy, because the people who love and care for my subject (in this case, Dave Chase) have such deep feelings of love and respect for him that my words would pale by comparison. Dave is one of those people who makes life better for everyone he meets, and there truly is no better tribute than the honor and deep gratitude of those whose lives he has touched. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We all love you!!

My nephew, Rob Masterson, says of his wife, Dustie, “This is our 22nd year together. We will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in January, but we have been together 22 years. She remains the love of my life. She is a remarkable woman at home and at work. Her boss has put her on the fast track as far as her advancement in the company. She loves her children…even when she wants to strangle them. Then again, I suspect that’s true of all mothers. I am prouder now than I was the day I married her, to be allowed to be her husband.” Such a beautiful tribute. It made me cry. Words of love from a husband to a wife. Some things simply cannot be improved upon by summarizing them.

Dustie has a way of taking things in stride, even when that isn’t the easiest thing to do. The family had a cat, named Scratch. The cat was so loved, but one day Scratch went missing. It was such a sad day for the whole family, but Scratch was Dustie’s cat, so it was especially sad for her, but Dustie persevered. Sadly, Scratch didn’t come back, and after waiting for a few months, Dustie decided that the time had come to get a new cat. So, they got a sweet little kitten and named him Moxie. Like Scratch, Moxie is very much a momma’s boy. Moxie loves to cuddle and be loved on, and Dustie coddles him. I think she must have a magnetic personality…especially for kitties.

Dustie has been working at Walgreen’s for a couple of years now, and she was recently promoted to ESM (Emerging Store Manager). That is second in command, and person in charge when the manager is off duty. She has worked very hard to be the best she can be. In order to receive this promotion, Dustie had to know every part of the store operations, including the Pharmacy, so she has taken a pharmacy tech training course. Dustie works very hard, and she has been learning many things pertaining to her job and possible promotions. She has a lot of responsibility now, but she loves it. As, her daughter, Raelynn said, “She’s been taking her life and making it great.” Dustie is also learning German and doing quite well. My only question is, why didn’t she learn it when I was learning it (in high school)? I needed someone to practice with. Her mother-in-law, my sister, Cheryl says she was too young. I say that is no excuse!!! Of course, the reality is that Dustie wasn’t born yet when I was in high school. Still no excuse, Dustie!!

Daughter, Taylor says, “Mom has always listened to our needs and wants. She has always been there for Rae, Matt, and me, especially right now and she is always checking in with Dad on how he’s feeling. Mom just amazing.” Raelynn says, “I really look up to mom. She doesn’t let things hold her down for very long.” No, she doesn’t. Dustie has always been a happy person, and that’s why we have all loved her since she and Rob started dating 22 years ago. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I don’t think any of us could have foreseen the changes that would occur in ten short years of marriage. Jason Sawdon became my nephew when he married my niece Jessica Hadlock on August 18, 2012, in what they have dubbed “the most amazing, fun party celebrating love.” They have been celebrating ever since that day. When they got married, Jason was a patrolman for the Wyoming Highway Patrol. He still works for the Wyoming Highway Patrol, but in a different capacity these days. A little over a year ago, Jason was promoted to Sergeant of Equipment and Technology, in a change that unfortunately for the rest of the family, took his family from Casper to Cheyenne. So, in the next step in his decorated career, they moved to Cheyenne on June 5, 2021. It was hard for all of us to have them go, but it was the best thing for their family. Jason is no longer on the street, and his hours are much better for a family man. His girls need him home at night.

They have spent the last year exploring their new city, and enjoying their new house, which Jason spent a lot of time refreshing for them before they moved in. This past year brough some sadness, in that they lost Daisy, their sweet Boxer dog, but now they have adopted a new Boxer dog that they named Riley. She has been so great for their family, and she is Jason and Jessi’s daughter, Adelaide’s best friend…and for Jason and Jessi, that means everything. As far as they are concerned, their little daughter, Adelaide is the best thing that has ever happened to them, and we all agree. She has been such a blessing.

Jason is such a happy person. He has a great sense of humor and loves to tease, but Jason also has a heart of gold. I will never forget what he did for my mom after my dad had passed away. Her birthday was on January 1st, so we always had a party for her. She and my dad always had their special dance. With Dad gone, mom felt like “the forgotten dancer” until Jason took her out on the dance floor. She struggled to stand on her own, but he held her up, and she got her dance. That was the single most amazingly precious thing I have ever seen…and I will never forget his kindness to her. It meant the world to her. That is the essence of the kind of person Jason is…with everything and everyone. Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of Jason’s kindness, knows just what I mean. Today is Jason’s birthday. Happy birthday Jason!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My little grandniece, Elliott Stevens has been very busy lately. On June 24, 2022, Elliott had a life-changing event occur in her life, when she became big sister to Maya Stevens. Elliott was always a happy girl, and really, very comfortable in her life. I don’t think she even minded being an only child, but then she really didn’t know anything else, so I suppose it doesn’t really count. Now, however, Elliott has a little sister, and that have made her life even better than before. Elliott loves helping her parents, Kayla and Garrett Stevens with Maya, and she and Maya are fast becoming best friends, as well as sisters. You can see the love that shows on their faces every time they are together. Elliott has other activities too, so holding her baby sister isn’t something she can do all the time, although she would if she could. Elliott is getting to be very capable at holding her sister, and loves to make her smile, and help with her care in any way she can. Maya, looking lovingly at
her big sister and knows that before long she will get to play with her too. It’s baby sister love for big sister.

Elliott can’t take care of her sister all the time, because she has a number of fun activities, she is involved in. She takes swimming lessons, as well as, gymnastics, and she goes to daycare, where she has lots of friends that she enjoys spending time with. Elliott is also her daddy’s best little helper. Maya will become a good helper too, but she too little right now. Elliott and her daddy build things together and paint things too, like the playhouse her and her daddy built for her. Elliott works very hard, and I know her daddy appreciates all her help. She also loves going to the park with her parents, and now her baby sister too. She loves the swings and slides the best, I think. Now that her grandpa, Mike Stevens is retired, he and Elliott’s grandma, Alena Stevens can go to Sheridan for visits more often. Elliott’s other grandparents, Lynette and Wes Smiley live in Sheridan, so she gets to see them lots too.

Elliott is a girly girl. She loves makeup, princess clothes, and of course…heels. She even has her own play makeup, and she loves putting it on, even if she isn’t perfect at it just yet…but then what girl starts out putting on her makeup perfectly. We all have to experiment until we find our perfect look. Elliot also loves to spend time with her cousins, Brooklyn and Jaxxon Killinger. They like to go swimming, to the park…or just hang out. It’s a good life, and Elliott is enjoying every minute of it. Today is Eliott’s 4th birthday. Happy birthday Elliott!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When a couple has been married a long time, things start changing in their life…things like kids getting married, and kids having kids, become the new normal. That is where my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin find themselves. The empty nest syndrome has long since come and gone, and now they find themselves in the next phase of their lives. This is the fun phase. Their children are raised, and now they can spoil the grandchildren, and enjoy their adult kids. Their family is growing, with the addition of very soon to be wives for their sons, and of course, those babies. There are no greater words for parents of adult children than grandma and grandpa.

Corrie and Kevin met when she was just 15 years old. Kevin was her first and only love. For him to also be her forever love is amazing, but that is exactly how it went for them. Now, 29 years later, they are still together and still going strong. I can’t say that I am surprised by that, because almost from the very first date, these “kids” seemed married…not the “oh my gosh, I can’t stand to be away from you” kind of love, but more the mature “you’re the one for me, and I can wait to make this right” kind of love. I don’t mean to say that they didn’t love each other very much, but they were very mature. Their love was grown up, and…forever. You just knew that this marriage was going to make it.

After two years, they got engaged, and the wedding was planned for the following year. My girl was going to graduate from high school, turn 18 a month later, and be married two weeks after that. Talk about a whirlwind…for me anyway. A whirlwind of emotions. I thought I was doing ok, but when the kids left for their honeymoon, it suddenly hit me, that my baby girl was married, and she didn’t live at home anymore. She was her own woman, and she had a husband, and very soon a family to take care of. She was a grown adult, but I also knew that the best years of her life were ahead of her, and before long the grandbabies would be coming along. Now the great grandbabies have come along, so I am able to see the next phase for them and for me. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 29th wedding anniversary. Where have the years gone. Happy anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Manuela Ortiz (Renville) is a sweet girl, who is full of life and joy. She married my grandnephew, James Renville last summer, and they have been enjoying their new life together. They both love to travel, and they go as much as they can. I think their favorite places will most likely always include beaches. Manuela, or Manu, as she is lovingly called by all who know her well, immigrated to the United States from Medellín, Antioquia, Columbia, and so she is used to the warm equatorial climate, making the warm beaches feel a lot like home. Still, she has adapted well to the cold northern climate too. Manuela and James love to go skiing and play in the snow, something Manuela probably never saw, until he moved here. They are open to all kinds of climates and will find a way to have fun anywhere.

Manuela has a bubbly personality and makes life fun for anyone who knows her. She has been such a wonderful blessing to my niece Toni Chase and her husband, Dave. For most of his life, James has been their only child, and now they have been given a daughter (daughter-in-law, but they don’t think of her as just a daughter-in-law) to complete their family…until grandbabies can come along…someday, hehehe. I think that whenever James and Manuela decide to have children, they will make beautiful babies, and I can’t wait to see them. Manuela has been so good for James, because he has a more reserved personality, but she brings out the other side of him, the side he only shows to those he knows well. When they are ready to have children, they will be a beautiful mix of both of them.

Manuela loves to dance, and coming from Columbia, she knows all the cool dances of that area. Dances like the Salsa, and many others that I would not know the names of, come as naturally to Manuela as walking, because she comes from a culture where these things are a part of everyday life. In fact, it is really fun to watch her dance, because she is so good at it. James can dance, but like most of us in this family, it is not something we do every day, so Manuela has been teaching him these dances, and he is getting very good as well. I’m sure that comes as part natural ability and part having a great teacher. James is such a good man, and I know that whether he is a natural at dancing or not, Manuela’s family loves him just because he is who he is…as good a husband to Manuela and she is a wife to him. Speaking of teaching, this happens to be one of Manuela’s many talents! She is also teaching James Spanish and loves to make tic-toc videos to share his progress. They are pretty funny to watch. She also teaches English on-line to private students. She is a great teacher! She is a podcaster in her free time on YouTube at Con Manu en la sala and a Tik-Tok @manuejames. As they go through their lives, I know that they will continue to be a blessing to each other and to their families. Today is Manuela’s birthday. Happy birthday Manuela!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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